The Guardian reports: The Pentagon and the White House are pushing back on reports that the Obama administration is pausing drone strikes and other counterterrorism operations in Yemen, amidst the abrupt collapse of a critical partner government.
Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, said both “unilateral and partnered” operations conducted by the US in Yemen against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) “are not suspended”.
Continuing “partnered” strikes with the Yemenis provides a signal that the US still considers itself to have reliable allies on the ground to spot for drone strikes and aid in other attacks on an al-Qaida affiliate observers fear will capitalize on the unfolding unrest in the country.
Alistair Baskey, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said reports that counterterrorism in Yemen was on hold were “completely false”.
“As we have in the past, we will continue to take action to disrupt continuing, imminent threats to the United States and our citizens. We also continue to partner with Yemeni security forces in this effort,” Baskey said.
But as Houthi rebels marching on the capital of Sanaa have upended Yemeni politics and created uncertainty about continued cooperation with the US, Kirby said the military had “temporarily put on hold some training with the Yemenis”. [Continue reading…]